17 Home Lessons We've Learned from Dorm Rooms

If your local university doesn’t offer “DIY 101,” it’s probably because the dorm rooms already provide all the home design inspiration anyone could want. Read on for 17 dorm-room-friendly design tips that are perfectly suited for grown-up accommodations, but can be completed on a college student’s budget!

  1. Color-Coordinate Cords

    Label Power Cords with Tape

    Do you feel powerless when faced with look-alike cords? Find the one you're looking for in a flash by wrapping colored tape just below the end of each cord. Choose distinct colors or patterns for charging, USB, and coaxial cables so you can identify them at a glance. 

    Related: 10 Smart Cord Management Solutions Under $50


  2. Paint with Plants

    Add Color with Plants

    You don’t have to be an art major to put nature’s paintbrush to work in your home. A menagerie of hanging and potted plants stationed on the floor, mantel, or floating shelves can add an instant pop of greenery and infuse dead spaces with life. 

    Related: Buy or DIY: 7 Hanging Planters for the Great Indoors


  3. Go Mad for Murals

    Make a DIY Photo Mural

    Unleash your inner shutterbug on a do-nothing wall by installing a DIY mural inspired by your own photography. After you select a photo, you need nothing more than a smartphone printer, mini film, and double-sided tape to create a distinctive display of your gallery-worthy work.

    Related: 10 Ways to Unleash the Potential of Your Blank Walls


  4. Double Down on Desks

    Get Creative with Furniture Arrangement

    Fooled by its streamlined silhouette, you might never guess that this desk leads a double life. By day, the extra tabletop is propped up against the wall to hold notes and reminders. By night, it drops down to form an elegant extended surface for studying or a late-night snack. 

    Related: 21 Ways to Make a Small Bedroom Big


  5. Think Sartorially

    Repurpose Old Scarves as Pillow Covers

    Repurposing seldom-worn scarves into pillowcases is a free way to add an element of luxury to a bedroom. Here, a tri-toned summer scarf in muted hues is wrapped around a throw pillow and then knotted at the center to serve as a chic companion to beds of all sizes.

    Related: 10 Ways to Redecorate Without Spending a Dime


  6. Put Storage on Wheels

    Put Storage on Wheels

    When space is at a premium, look no further than this understated underbed storage solution for your sneakers, sandals, and heels. The pine frame, nickel cabinet pulls, and casters make this roll-away accent a runaway hit.

    Related: 11 Best Buys to Make Your Small Home Feel Big


  7. Piece Together Area Rugs

    Get a Large Rug for Less

    A large area rug doesn’t have to come with a larger-than-life price tag. If you have two smaller rugs (woven styles work well), line them up and weave them together at the seam using a bent paper clip and twine. Best of all, this idea is easily scalable—combine as many coverings as you want to suit the size of your space.

    Related: 10 Doable Designs for a DIY Rug


  8. Make a Grand Entrance

    Stack Crates for Entryway Storage

    Even a cold and uninviting entryway can be made more hospitable with the addition of space-smart decor. Here, wooden crates stacked in an attractive tiered design add personality to blank walls while serving as a practical drop zone for shoes and accessories.

    Related: 14 Ultrafunctional Ideas to Steal for Your Entryway


  9. Get Hooked

    Add Removable Wall Hooks

    Stuck on the side of a dresser or bed frame, Command hooks offer extra storage space when your closet is maxed out. Cure clutter by placing a few more in your entryway or hall to catch loose belts, scarves, and keys.

    Related: The 9 Best Storage Spots You Aren't Already Using


  10. Lean on Ladders

    Lean a Ladder for Vertical Storage

    Hanging a spare ladder against an empty wall is a great way to give it a second life as a stylish vertical storage unit. Note how this wooden ladder, planted a cheerful mint green, serves as a practical yet playful clothing rack.

    Related: 9 New Things to Do with Old Ladders


  11. Dress Your Bed for Less

    Dress Your Bed for Less

    With the help of upholstery twist pins, you can attach bargain fabric directly to a box spring to create a beautiful but no-fuss skirt to hide underbed storage. This bed skirt's playful pinstripe design is the perfect foil for the neutral quilt. 

    Related: 10 Things Your Bedroom Might Be Missing


  12. Hang Picture-Perfect Curtains

    Hang DIY Picture Curtains

    Why bother scrolling through your favorite Instagram snaps on your phone when you could enjoy them all the time hanging in your bedroom? First, print out your faves onto transparencies (or just grab some of your best slides). Fit them into transparent sleeves, and use scissors, superglue, and tape to turn the sleeves into curtains with a stained-glass vibe. Hung in front of a window, they'll keep the sun's glare out—and your memories close. 

    Related: 10 Must-Follow Instagram Accounts for Architecture Lovers


  13. Read Between the Shelves

    Use a Bookcase as a Headboard

    Even in a shared dorm room, you don’t have to sacrifice precious square footage to gain extra storage. This headboard does double duty as a bookcase for stashing novels, electronics, and decorative accessories. Even when the shelves are jam-packed, the open design gives the illusion of space.

    Related: 14 Easy Ways to Make Your Own Headboard


  14. Reframe Photos

    Frame Photos with Washi Tape

    When it comes to wall art, there are no limits to what you can DIY. Case in point: this frugal, frameless photo gallery. Just outline your photo or poster with patterned washi tape to draw the eye to your display.

    Related: 9 DIY Ways to Redo Your Wall—Without Paint


  15. Disguise Drawers

    Add Space Under Your Desk

    Hidden below the surface of this desk is a deep, dark secret: a DIY drawer formed by fabric hung below the desk with hooks and a curtain rod. The slender structure is sturdy enough to hold paper and office supplies, but subtle enough to go unnoticed.

    Related: 13 No-Fail Small-Space Solutions


  16. Hang Jewelry

    Hang Jewelry

    In addition to keeping your clothes organized and wrinkle-free, hangers can hold your jewelry. Just twist a few screw eyes into the wood to make this easy, ample hanging rack for your valuables.

    Related: 8 DIY Storage Solutions for a Closet-less Room


  17. Revamp a Rug

    Upgrade a Regular Rug with Tassels

    These no-hassle tassels give a plain rug an understated yet unmistakable elegance. Steal the low-effort look by knotting crochet yarn into tassels and tying them along the edges of a rug that could use a boost.

    Related: 10 Mini Makeovers You Can Do in Minutes


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